Biography

Spender, Brenda E

Brenda E Spender’s main contribution to the canon of pony book literature is the On’y Tony series. These are aimed firmly at a younger readership than the pony books which came after them aimed at. Pony books for decades tended to be for children of at least the age of ten, so Brenda E Spender was much before her time in concentrating on the younger reader. It is only now, in the 21st century, that pony books aimed at a younger readership have come to the fore.

Although the books do have period charm, and charming illustrations, they are perhaps a little cutesome for modern (and certainly my) taste.

Friends of Van is an adventure story for an older readership. It is more of a holiday adventure than a pony story, but does have lovely illustrations by Stanley Lloyd.

With the artist J H Dowd, Brenda Spender also wrote a trilogy of books about childhood (People of Importance, Serious Business and Important People). Under the pseudonym Elizabeth Steward, she wrote a title for Mills and Boon in 1932: The Unlikely Wooing.

The On’y Tony Series
On’y Tony
On’y Tony’s Circus
On’y Tony and the Dragon

Finding the books
All the Tony books are relatively easy and cheap to find, as is Friends of Van.

Links and sources
The British Library
Many thanks to Dawn Harrison for her help with the photographs.

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